The Victorian era involved a lot of lace. In the face of encroaching industrialism, handmade lace enjoyed a frilly revival—and masked fears about the commodification of female labor.
During Prohibition, American women “made, sold, and drank liquor in unprecedented fashion,” writes historian Mary Murphy.
Murphy Brown represented a threat to “family values”—a position that inherently placed her on the side of the families of color whose single family structures supposedly threatened the white, middle-class status quo of the 1990s.
In the 18th century a new trend in women’s underwear sparked public scandal: the hoop petticoat. How the world became obsessed with what was under women’s skirts.
In Iowa, between 1964 and 1991, groups of women—the wives of pork farmers—boosted the supposed benefits of pork-heavy diets. They were the Iowa Porkettes.
In the late 1800s, American women began to move more freely in public. In response, public libraries created sex-segregated reading rooms, intended to keep women in their proper place.
Supermarkets represented a major innovation in food distribution—a gendered innovation that encouraged women to find sexual pleasure in subordination.
In The Long Winter, often praised as Laura Ingalls Wilder’s greatest novel, the villain may be not the snow, but oppressive gender roles.
One scholar sees more in the Christmas food of authors like Charles Dickens—English national identity and class.
Remember those spiral-bound cookbooks from your church group or your mom’s favorite charity? Those amateur recipe collections are history books, too.